“You doubt your value. Don’t run from who you are.” C.S. Lewis
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
C.S. Lewis wrote about a magical wardrobe in The Chronicles of Narnia. The children that entered this mysterious wardrobe experienced an alternate reality. They had very real experiences, some fantastically wonderful and some fantastically scary. But upon re-entering the world from which they came, they found that the stories they shared with others were only seen as mere fantasies. In some way this is how I felt about the training I completed with Sage Hill this past year. I am intrigued with how powerful the mind is and how intricately complex God designed our bodies to be. The ways in which our physical bodies process emotional experiences are still beyond my comprehension.
Once a quarter I traveled to Nashville and spent the weekend learning from Sage Hill’s Christian counselors. Little did I know when I signed up for the intense training that I had begun a journey into my own wardrobe. It was fantastically scary as some of my own unresolved matters were met head-on, but fantastically wonderful as I learned a new language, a language of the heart, and was able to connect with others in a way that left me feeling completely alive. Why do more people not know this language, and better yet…their own hearts? A melting pot of experiences stored within affect so much of what we say and do. Oftentimes, we are completely unaware of how these experiences influence our behaviors, patterns, and even our addictions.
It sounds so silly now to think that I would simply gather some tools from a few seminars and pass them along to my support group at The Power Plant when in truth, I can’t teach something that I really don’t know. How can I advocate a new language if I don’t understand the power it holds? I don’t have a psychology bone in my body, but as the lay-person ministering to women who understandably have some hefty emotional baggage, I needed God to ordain this experience of delving into my own traumas so that I can walk alongside others and help them find hope in the midst of theirs.
With this new language, the training has given me hope to be able to better pour into women and caregivers struggling with burnout and emotional fatigue. All the caregivers in our support group have special-needs children, some of whom are now adults. I have a special-needs child too, and while the unrelenting task of caring for special individuals is greatly rewarding, the truth is that it is also greatly challenging. Most people don’t envision countless doctors’ appointments, surgeries, and delayed milestones when they plan to have children, nor do they anticipate endless uncertainty that accompanies special conditions. I certainly didn’t.
Often, we tell ourselves to suck it up and try to handle the stresses on our own. And in time, caregivers can easily become masters of disguise pretending that everything is okay when perhaps it isn’t. Sometimes we do this until we can no longer keep face. The breaking point a tough spot to find ourselves in, but getting to that point of surrender is a beautiful thing because that’s where we can humbly reach out for help.
The Power Plant has been working to support these caregivers and to teach them a new language. The training I’ve received at Sage Hill has helped me connect with the group in a unique way simply by sharing our struggles and how we feel. It’s our voice, and there is power in a common language and knowing that we aren’t alone. We learn to struggle well with the challenges at hand. We enter the wardrobe, a place where many don’t understand, and we learn to be who God made us to be so we can ultimately do what God made us to do. For some of us, that may be the wonderous task of caring for a loved one.